Who hasn't wondered, while watching the Godfather I, what on earth were cannoli and why they were so important that they shouldn't be left in a car with a dead wiseguy? Of course that doesn't include people actually acquainted with the said pastries, who wouldn't for a second think of ever forgetting a box of those wonderful delicacies.
So let me introduce you... Cannoli (plural form of cannolo), crunchy cigars of deep-fried pastry crusts, filled with the omnipresent (at least in Sicilian pâtisserie) crema di ricotta, simply ricotta mixed with icing sugar, small chocolate chips and decorated with some candied orange peel.
This simple delight can come in oversweetened guise so beware and choose wisely. Of course, for the sake of testing and experience, I tried them from different shops (at least four times, including one last nostalgic roll from the airport café).
The following picture was taken at the Caffé Antico Spinnato, one of the places to people watch in Palermo. They were the best. The inside of the crust was covered in dark chocolate, which added extra crunch and, well, of course, chocolate. I suspect the one at the airport came from the same place (they sell them in packages too). It was chocolate-plated too, which the "normal" ones weren't, in Cefalù.
They also come as mini (cannoli piccoli) when one is tempted but thinking of one's waistline (which I obviously wasn't). But then they have no peel to them.
Frankly, I am in love with them, and it's a good thing they aren't available here. That means that 1) temptation is kept at bay with no willpower of my own involved, and 2) I'll have to go back to Sicily one day (or NYC obviously). I mean, what's not to love? crispy rolls of cracking pastry, melting ricotta, choc chips and orange peel... and I resisted buying the metal rolls to make them at home, mainly because I couldn't stand deep-frying the shells, and I was conscious of the damage that would do to my waistline anyway.
Tea and coffee at the Antico Caffé Spinnato...